News: 597th Trans. Bde. hosts AAHM observance event
Story by Airman 1st Class Austin Harvill
FORT EUSTIS, Va. - The 597th Transportation Brigade hosted an African-American History Month observance luncheon at Fort Eustis, Feb. 26.
The program included a poetry reading, dance routine and a musical selection. The guest speaker for the event was John Sibley Butler, professor of management and sociology at the University of Texas in Austin.
Butler spoke about the importance of the military mission and its impact on diversity and equality.
“Throughout our history, I believe we have been at the forefront of Civil Rights,” explained Butler, who also served in the Army. “We were desegregated long before [the trial of] Brown vs. The Board of Education. We were more concerned with meeting the high standards necessary to defend our nation, and race doesn’t play a factor in those standards.”
Butler continued, saying he believes in dedication to the mission and providing opportunities for diversity and camaraderie.
“When people put on the uniform and call themselves [Service members], they put on a whole history and heritage,” said Butler. “That unity of all [service members] creates the brotherhood and sisterhood of the [military].”
Heritage was a key point throughout the presentation, explained 15-year-old singer and Yorktown native Taylor Burrell, 2013 Miss Roanoke Valley Outstanding Teen.
“This event allows me to embrace [my heritage],” said Taylor. “Sharing [my performance] with [service members] adds another level of appreciation for how far we all have come as a nation.”
Her sister, 17-year-old Yorktown native A’Leah Burrell, 2013 collegiate-level Miss West Virginia, danced at the event, and shared her own insight.
“This was a great opportunity for Taylor and me to give back to those who give so much every day,” said A’Leah. “We love sharing our talents, and our heritage, with those who sacrifice so much for us.”
Butler and the Burrell sisters received mementos from U.S. Army Col. Jason Vick, 597th Trans. Bde. commander and Rochester, N.Y. native, thanking them for their contributions. Vick shared his appreciation for the opportunity to bring his soldiers together to reinforce the lesson of unity.
“Bringing together [service members] from across our two installations allows us to continue the mission of unity, which leads to more success for our mission and military family,” said Vick.